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Peruvian shamans perform a ritual prior to the arrival of Pope Francis to Peru, at Pescadores beach in Chorrillos, Lima, Peru, January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

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LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian shamans said on Wednesday they expect good news from the visit of Pope Francis to the Andean nation, and held rituals on a beach near Lima to give him strength to fight against accusations of sexual abuse that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

Dressed in ponchos, the shamans passed rue leaves - believed to ward off evil and bring good luck - over photos of the Argentine pontiff, and stood by the ocean playing percussion instruments.

The pope lands in Peru on Thursday after finishing a trip to neighbouring Chile. He will visit the Amazon jungle city of Puerto Maldonado and the northern city of Trujillo as well as the capital, Lima.

"I see it going very well, above all in Trujillo and Puerto Maldonado. There will be good news and we ask the pope to pray with all the Andean priests," said shaman Juan Osco, as he tossed flower petals over the pope's image.

"We want to congratulate Francis for being a leader with enough strength to get rid of paedophile priests," he said.

In Chile, Francis has faced protests from Catholics upset with his 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros to head the diocese of Osorno. Barros denies accusations that he protected a priest found guilty in a Vatican investigation of abusing teenage boys.

The pope, who also faces criticism in Peru for his handling of abuse allegations against the former leaders of an elite Catholic society, met with victims of child sexual abuse in Chile and expressed "pain and shame."

Seen as kinder towards indigenous people than previous Church leaders, Francis will meet with Amazonian indigenous leaders on Friday. He shared a meal with Mapuche in Chile on Wednesday.

Shamans from different indigenous groups in Peru frequently give their visions for events, politicians and soccer games.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, Writing by Caroline Stauffer, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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Reuters